While the winners for 2009 already know who they are, and received extensive publicity on these pages in August last year, those for 2010 will only be revealed at the ceremony, and the stakes are indeed high! An extremely intensive and challenging judging session was held late March, entailing the usual lengthy debates and arguments and several long phone calls to reviewers in other centres to garner their opinions too.
At the end of the process, which involved much discussion, poring over score sheets, menus and wine lists, reading reviews and pondering very hard, the judges — who comprise the entire review team —were satisfied that justice had indeed been done, and the deserving award winners correctly identified.
Theirs was not an easy task — neither will it ever be. The finalists, having attained a Five Plate Rating, have already shown how good they are, by scoring between 90% and 100% of the possible marks available in their own particular entry category, and receiving an enthusiastic review from one of the teams of Zim on a Plate reviewers, currently comprising 24 people nationwide.
Besides all the documentation which informs these decisions, and the first-hand account of the reviewer or reviewing pair who rated the finalist under scrutiny, the review team is effectively never off-duty when dining out! Through the year, other reviewers will have dined at these top establishments too, and would bring their own additional observations to the judging table.
This is a point well worth remembering, by entrants who, having attained a very good review and rating, might make the mistake of sitting back for the remainder of the reviewing season; not a good plan! You never know when a Zim on a Plate reviewer might walk through your doors, and negative reports by reviewers other than the person who originally reviewed the restaurant concerned, may indeed enter into the debate when it’s a very close call.
What a negative report by a reviewer who dined there later in that season indicates, of course, is a lack of consistency — and as Zim on a Plate simply does not have the budget to review every entrant twice in the same year, these additional opinions and observations are very useful, and can be very relevant, when it comes to deciding the final winner from contenders who seem equally excellent in every other way.
Zim on a Plate reviewers are selected, among many other qualities, for their passion for eating out, great food and great dining experiences. For this reason, they tend to eat out regularly enough to be able to come to a judging session with just such useful information at their fingertips — so while the review and the score play a very important part in finding the winner, there can be more to it than just that.
There is of course no room for arbitrariness or bias at the Zim on a Plate judging table, which is why many heads come together to make these difficult decisions, and votes are taken on every one of them. All the information that can be found and considered, is considered.
There is much curiosity about who the winners will be for 2010, given that Zim on a Plate welcomed quite a number of new entrants last year, and some of these are already on the finalist list, giving old timers who have dominated it, a run for their money and upping the stakes even further!
With some awards going for several consecutive years to the same winners, all will be on tenterhooks at today’s ceremony, officiated by Rosie Mitchell, Competition Manager since its creation, and with The Standard newspaper and the founder and sponsor The Cheeseman, well represented.
Raphael Khumalo, the Group CEO of Alpha Media Holdings will be giving a speech and Nevanji Madanhire, Editor of The Standard, will make some of the awards. So, with bated breath, you will just have to wait and see, who will bask in the glory for 2010!